Panthers trade Kris Versteeg back to Blackhawks

The Florida Panthers traded Kris Versteeg and minor leaguer Philippe Lefebvre to the Chicago Blackhawks, the team announced late Thursday.

In return, Florida received winger Jimmy Hayes and defenseman Dylan Olsen.

“Jimmy is a young, strong, hardworking, versatile forward who brings both size and skill to our team,” GM Dale Tallon said in a statement. “Dylan, a former first-round draft pick, is a young, solid defenseman who adds further depth to our blue line.”

Hayes has appeared in 43 NHL games with the Blackhawks, netting six goals and seven assists. He will be in Florida’s lineup on Friday when the Panthers take on the Minnesota Wild.

Olsen, Chicago’s first-round pick in 2009, has one assist in 28 career NHL games.

Both skaters have been playing for the Rockford Ice Hogs, the Blackhawks’ American Hockey League affiliate.

“We thank Kris for his contributions to the Panthers, including helping us win 2011-2012 Southeast Division Championship, and wish him the best of luck in his return to Chicago,” Tallon added.

Versteeg, who was coming off knee surgery last season, struggled in 18 games with Florida this year. The winger notched just two goals and five assists. He has gone without a goal in his last 10 games.

Versteeg was a healthy scratch in the team’s 3-2 overtime loss against the Washington Capitals on Nov. 2.

In 2011-12, the 27-year-old posted a career year across the board, ranking second on the Panthers in goals (23) and third in assists (31) and points (54).

This will mark Versteeg’s second stint with the Blackhawks. He was a member of the 2010 Stanley Cup-winning squad.

“We are excited to bring Kris back to Chicago and are pleased to add a

player with his experience and versatility to our lineup,” Blackhawks

president and general manager Stan Bowman said in a statement. “This

move strengthens our team depth and Kris’ skill is a great complement to

our current roster.”